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April 26th, 2022
A good negotiation results in a positive sum result. Most negotiation is thought of as compromise, where both parties give up something in order to reach an agreement. The only thing worse than a negotiation that results in dual compromise is a negotiation that doesn’t result in a deal. Then again, no deal might actually be better than a compromise. Regardless, both are a failure of communication and negotiation. Partnerships and collaboration occur because we as humans, when grouped together in a team become capable of far more than the sum of our people. Compromise goes against the norm of what collaboration generally achieves.
I recently found myself in a group of people who were all tasked with a lot of searching and sifting of information that we all needed to be proficient with. As fate would have it, I wasn’t particularly thrilled about this inefficient task, so I hatched a plan. I proposed to the group a roundtable session to drill down on the needed information. Everyone being of like mind and feeling a little out of their element jumped at the opportunity. The hypothesis was that everyone would have bits of knowledge and if we simply had a session or two to share and experiment with the communal knowledge, then perhaps things would be more efficient. Indeed, they were. And the funny thing is, I did almost no preparation - I just scheduled the meet ups, and people thanked me for it. Yet that’s all I contributed. And in return, by hosting a couple sessions with different cross sections of available people from the whole group, I quickly gained a high level of proficiency.
This structure is exactly how businesses function. A business owners with a good idea ideally gets to the point where they can’t do everything themselves, so they hire labor. A person who is grateful for employment does the work the business owner no longer has time for (or simply doesn’t want to do). There’s an exchange where both parties get something out of the agreement. Now certainly this is an ideal, and real life is far more complex, and often there are enormous differences of benefit between employer and employed. But at its core, a business is just a group project, much like what I did with my group who all had to sift and search for knowledge we had to be capable with.
Much is said about leadership these days, but it probably only boils down to this idea: that people around you become far more powerful if woven together in a team. The leader is just a person who recognizes that and schedules it to happen. It’s the simple difference between: I need to figure this out and Let’s figure this out together.